Police investigate Furness General Hospital baby deaths

Joshua Titcombe
Image caption An inquest heard more should have been done to save Joshua Titcombe's life

Police are probing the deaths of a number of babies at a Cumbria hospital.

The probe follows the death of Joshua Titcombe who died nine days after his birth at Furness General Hospital in October 2008, Cumbria Police said.

An inquest in June ruled Joshua died of natural causes but said midwives had repeatedly missed opportunities to spot and treat a serious infection.

A hospital spokesman said it had not been informed of the new probe but would "co-operate fully" with police.

Police said it was unclear exactly how many cases it would look at.

A statement said: "Cumbria Police is continuing an investigation into a number of deaths that occurred after mothers and infants received care at the maternity unit in Furness General Hospital.

"The investigation began following the death of Joshua Titcombe and detectives have now widened their investigation to include a number of other deaths.

"The enquiries are detailed and complex so it is too early to determine exactly which of these cases, or how many others, the investigation may include as it progresses."

'Let down'

The force said 15 detectives were working on the case and "major" incident rooms had been set up in Penrith and Barrow.

Bereaved families are also being supported by liaison officers.

Tony Halsall, chief executive of the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust, said: "We are not aware of any further developments with the investigation into the tragic death of Joshua Titcombe or the widening of this investigation to include any other cases.

"If the police wish to contact us, we would cooperate fully to assist them".

At the time of Joshua's inquest, the Trust admitted he had been "let down".

Coroner Ian Smith said staff had not listened to the baby's parents and had failed to record proper notes and spot that the baby was becoming seriously ill.

The inquest heard that despite concerns raised by his parents, midwives did not involve a doctor for some time.

It also heard that had the baby been given antibiotics at birth, there would have been at least an 80% chance of recovery.

Speaking at the time, Joshua's father James, said the inquest had been "thorough" and this would help the family "move on".

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